Jim Allen is an award-winning VFX artist, creative director and founding partner of No.8, an award-winning creative sound and vision studio located in the heart of Soho, offering editing, audio, music, colour grading, VFX, CGI and animation services. Jim has been creative director on hundreds of commercials for brands such as Sony, VW, The Royal Navy, Jaguar, Adidas, Range Rover and Walls, which won a record five gold arrows.
In April 2019, he joined forces with Barny Wright to launch No.8, offering best-in-class multi-disciplinary services through a single point of contact. In late 2020 multi award winning sound designer Sam Robson joined No.8 as a partner and creative director. Jim is also an active participant on awards juries, lending his opinion to whoever will listen.
And speaking of lending his opinion, here Jim happily shares with us some of his favourite work from the UK from the last few months...
B&Q - 'We Will Grow Again'
Production: Riff Raff
Director: Sacred Egg
This is an ad bursting with promise and hope that manages to speak not only about nature's spring awakening, but also of our collective emergence from the darkness of lockdown. Directors, Sacred Egg, have used a great mix of live-action and animation styles that add to the feeling of earthiness without ever feeling gimmicky. A lovely colour grade by Matthieu Toullet matched with a snappy edit from Sam Bould and a fittingly emotional soundtrack combine to create an ad that is perfect for right now. It is a testament to the craft on display that after watching I feel both filled with optimism and a strong desire to go and buy some plants.
Oculus - 'First Steps'
Agency: TBWA/Chiat/Day NY
Production: Reset Content
Director: Ian Pons Jewell
It seems barely a month goes by between each new piece of work by Ian Pons Jewel, each one more eyeball bleedingly brain-scrambling than the last. As ever with Ian's work, there is a high level of inventiveness and attention to detail on display. If you get a chance, watch one of the great behind-the-scenes films on YouTube to see how it was all created, down to the casting of twins to play one arm each in the POV scenes.
KFC - 'Until We Can Finger Lick Again'
Agency: Mother London
After receiving 163 complaints about its finger lickin’ ad for being pandemic-inappropriate, KFC was force to pull it. Instead, they turned to other brands for inspiration and used the hashtag #UntilWeCanFingerLickAgain to ask their customers which brand slogans they should use. Their customers dutifully rose to the challenge and came back with a barrage of suggestions such as Nike's ‘Just Do It’ and Red Bull's ‘Gives You Wings’. The resulting combinations are extremely successful and go to show that a good slogan is always a good slogan.
Taj Mahal Presents… - 'A Short Film'
Production: Big Trouble Films
Director: David Dearlove
I think this qualifies on the basis that, although a short film, it does carry sponsorship from the Taj Mahal restaurant in Crawley, and so is, in a way, advertising, or branded content, or something...
The film is an amusing look at familiar short film cliches and stars the excellent Phil Davis, Tom Ashely and the director’s Dad. If you’ve spent any time watching or making short films you will certainly recognise some of the themes.
Green & Blacks - 'Wildly Deliciously Organic'
Director: Kim Gehrig
I haven’t seen a chocolate ad this exciting since Jonathan Glazers banned the Flake ad from 2010
. While Green & Blacks ad might not be quite as anarchically bonkers as Cadbury’s, it does share some of its visceral rawness. In Kim Gehrig's ad, we see manic frenzied animals feeding while M.I.A’s 'Born Free' blasts out as loudly as the ASA will allow. As Greg Wallace might say, it’s like a chocolatey punch in the face.